Showing Legitimacy: The Strategic Employment of Visuals in the Legitimation of New Organizations

Fernando Pinto Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Entrepreneurs commonly engage in discursive activities to pursue the legitimacy of their new organizations. Previous studies on this pursuit have essentially been focused on verbal language and there is limited understanding of how other communication modes, such as the visual, offer specific potentials for influencing legitimation audiences. With the contemporary pervasiveness of digital documents and online environments that often employ the visual mode, this gap has become more relevant. To address it, this study is guided by the following research question: how do entrepreneurs use the visual mode of communication to legitimize their new ventures? Building on the case of a new organization, this study shows that specific features of the visual mode of communication are especially well suited to sustaining legitimation in particular ways. While previous research has mostly remained on a conceptual level, this study empirically advances the understanding of visual discursive legitimation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10564926211050785
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Management Inquiry
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Nov 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • legitimacy
  • entrepreneurship
  • communication


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